Thursday, April 24, 2014

title pic “I Love Lucy” Costumes-In Remembrance of Her 100th Birthday!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 5, 2011


Lucy's attempts at sewing prove no better than many of her other experiments.

“Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do!!”

Lucille’s 100th Birthday

An I Love Lucy costume on display at the Lucy/Desi Museum.

If you are an “I Love Lucy” fan at all, this is an exciting day!  Today, on August 6th, we celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs. “I Love Lucy” herself – Lucille Ball!  Not only that, but this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the “I Love Lucy” tv series first airing on television back in 1951!  It went on to be one of the most popular shows of all time, boasting such devoted fans as First Lady Mamie Eishenhower!  Between the live studio laughter, charming 1950s set, the endearing characters, and uproariously hilarious humor, “I Love Lucy” has captured the hearts of fans for decades, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon!

Celebrations are being held in Lucy’s hometown where the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Center hopes to break the world record for “most people dressed as Lucille Ball at one time”.  And you know it’s more than just an old-fashioned comedy show when Google adds a vintage “I Love Lucy” clip to their home page for the day!

Rare I Love Lucy Photographs


If you click on this picture, you should be able to read the entire article!

In honor of these celebrations, I would like to share some vintage images from a 1953 rare treasure that I just received from an estate sale.  This 1953 edition of “Family Life” magazine contained terrific behind-the-scenes photos shot on the filming stage for the film, “The Long, Long Trailer”.  While I haven’t watched it myself, it sounds like a feature-length I Love Lucy episode filmed as an entire movie, just with different names for the characters


Desi and Lucille pose as newlyweds in "The Long, Long Trailer".

For this movie Lucy and Ricky posed as newlyweds, and if you look closely Lucy’s wedding dress may remind you very strongly of Princess Catherine’s wedding dress!  It certainly reminds of the royal wedding dress much more than Grace Kelly’s gown, which was the dress everyone attributed the recent royal gown design to. 

MGM's copyrighted illustration for "The Long, Long Trailer"


Lucille Ball's original film costume from the mentioned television special was sold on Profiles in History in June 2011 by Debbie Reynolds.












I Love Lucy Costumes


One of Eloise's superb costume designs for the I Love Lucy series.

The costume designer for much of the series was Elois Jennsen, who worked closely with Lucy to ensure that her unique style came through the screen.  Lucille’s costumer did a fabulous job of keeping her well-dressed, and her already trim figure was elongated even more with three inch high heels and slenderizing 1950s dresses.  The “I Love Lucy” costumes were not all serious, though, and the poor costume designer must have thrown her hands up when it came to episodes where Lucy’s eccentric personality led her to dress as a baseball player, clown, moustached news reporter, or much worse! 

Lucy's Homemade Dress from "I Love Lucy" show

Lucy Ricardo pouts after her first attempt to sew herself a dress. Notice the uneven collar, with one set-in sleeve and another puffy sleeve.

In the episode, “Lucy Wants New Furniture”, Lucy attempts to sew herself a dress with hilariously disastrous results!  And quite uncharacteristingly, the whole Ricardo and Mertz clan went waltzing about their work in turn of the century Victorian costumes during Lucy and Ethel’s portrayal of  “Pioneer Women”.


Ethel and Lucy don proper 1890 Victorian dresses and curly updos.

Of all the I Love Lucy costumes, I am particularly fond of the flared bias cut skirts that Lucy wore with crossover wrap blouses, as well as the famous checked pencil-skirt dress worn for  the legendary “Chocolate Factory” episode.  And since every appliance and piece of furniture from the tv set was copied and marketed to loyal fans of the day, I can only imagine that Lucille was quite a trend setter in 50s fashions for the American housewife! 


This bias cut skirt was most becoming on Lucille Ball.

In recent months I have come across a fabulous resource for free “I Love Lucy” episodes on this website.  Film Classics website holds a virtual library of episodes, offering over six seasons of the classic television series online for watching enjoyment.  If you love Lucy, it’s something you won’t want to miss!  And if you love 1950s dresses as much as I do, you may enjoy seeing some of my recent Lucille-inspired creations here.  Enjoy!

title pic A Vintage 1950s “Walkaway” Dress – The City of Roses Dress

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 3, 2011



Butterick 4790 Pattern Review

If you have ever sewn the 1950s Walkaway Dress, you may have mixed feelings about the results.  Most of the comments online show that the updated retro pattern does not fit the way the original pattern cover shows.  But as I share in my post “How to Make Butterick 4790 Look Like the Pattern Cover”, it really is not that hard to take this basic pattern and make it look like an authentic 1950s dress!



This crisp cotton dress is pure 1950s, but is simple enough to wear every day.

 I absolutely love this new “vintage” dress I sewed, with the lovely cotton rose print, white flower buttons, and lettuce hem edge finishing the skirt!  The big, bouffant skirt “swishes” when you walk, and the wide grosgain ribbon tied in a bow makes it looks so much like a 1950s film costume!

I call it my “City of Roses” dress since Portland is famous for its glorious flowers.  These rose bushes I’m standing in front do not display the profusion of blooms which you can see all over Portland right now, but as this photo shoot was rather spur of the moment I wasn’t able to get the photographs in the location I had in mind.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it, or see pictures of it yourself at the International Rose Garden’s website.  This dress had 108 pictures taken of it, so since I can’t share them all here I’ve posted some more over on the Facebook page. 



This 1950s vintage style dress was sewn from a drapey faille fabric.

That first vintage walkaway dress I sewed was made from a drapey faille fabric which flowed softly over the crinoline underskirt I sewed.  But this time around, I was determined to make an authentic day dress, so I used a crisp cotton fabric. 


This crisp cotton skirt has more weight than the orange dress did.

  The lady who helped me buy this gorgeous coral cotton from Maywood Fabric’s “Roses” collection said that it looked like something from “I Love Lucy“!  Because this cotton is obviously a bit heavier than the faille I used for my first dress, the skirt hangs in soft folds, rather than lightly bouncing above the crinoline as my first walkaway dress did.  But this way may be better for a day dress anyhow, since I’m sure housewives didn’t always wear enormous “poodle skirt” styles while washing the dishes!



The wide vinyl belt adds a nice vintage touch to this cotton print day dress.





The inspiration for the wide belt came from this lovely 1950s dress which was sold at .

As with my orange version of Butterick 4790, I wore the corset and crinoline for the authentic 1950s look, but I added a wide vinyl belt at the waist to give the grosgain bow sash some stability.  When I wear it with the ribbon tied around the waist, it looks much more like a late 1950s or even early 1960s dress to me, instead of the very early 1950s feel if you don’t wear a belt.

The white gloves I wore with this outfit are vintage 1940s gloves which I found at a nearby estate sale this spring.  They have lots of topstitching over the seams and a pearl button closure at each wrist.

For the record, 6015 was the original pattern number back in the 50s, as the “4790″ is just the number for the new, updated version.  If you have an original walkaway pattern (Butterick 6015), you will not need to do the alterations that I’ve mentioned.  



This ad for the "walkaway" dress (Butterick 6015) shows a much narrower skirt than the pattern cover does for either 6015 or 4790.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the Butterick walkaway dress, click here for a detailed description.  It was termed the “walkaway” dress because a woman could supposedly “start it at 9:00 in the morning and walk away in it to a luncheon at noon.”  The extra steps I take in sewing this pattern (such as turning the bias binding to the inside and waiting three days for the skirt to hang), necessitates a project that does take a bit longer than just three hours, but every minute of it is enjoyable!  (Thanks to Sarah of for allowing me to reprint this vintage walkaway dress ad from her collection!)

I have pictures of the construction steps for this dress, so if anyone is interested I just might host a “Butterick Walkaway Dress Sew Along” where we study how to sew an authentic 1950s dress.  Happy sewing!

UPDATE: We are hosting this 1950s sew-along this month, so be sure to join us in sewing!



title pic “Maria’s Gazebo Dress” – Another Sound of Music Costume Coming Soon!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on July 28, 2011

This ethereal chiffon dress which Maria wore is one of the loveliest Sound of Music costumes of all times.

Edelweiss Patterns is designing another “Sound of Music” costume, this time inspired by Maria von Trapp’s chiffon dress!

Remember the gorgeous blue chiffon dress that Maria wore for the gazebo scene (Something Good), the puppet show, and the initial singing of “Edelweiss”?  With those fluttery sleeves, blouson bodice and smocked insets, it was appropriately referred to as “that lovely little thing you were wearing the other evening” by Baroness Elsa Schraeder herself!   For the last several years I have studied the dress in detail, and now the pattern is well underway so you will actually be able to make a similar dress yourself!


Similar to the original dress which inspired this design, the Edelweiss Patterns version has honeycomb smocking and flutter sleeves.


This bodice is so flattering to wear with the fullness up top and the firmly belted waist.

I am sharing “sneak peek” photos of the dress, but keep in mind that this is one of the initial prototypes and not the final version.  As intricate as the dress may look, it is actually quite simple to sew, and even the honeycomb smocking can be replaced with machine shirring if you are not fond of hand sewing.  I just love the sturdy belt worn over the gathered bodice which moves all the fullness to the upper bodice area, rather than looking like the Edwardian “pouter pigeon” silhouette if the dress was worn alone.  This belt is also wonderful to wear over peasant style tops, since they tend to be a bit roomy in the waist area and add too much bulk if they are made of a stiff cotton.  In back the belt dips down to a “v”, in a very similar fashion to the belts of the early 1900s.  I’ll be posting pictures of that soon.  (UPDATE: WE JUST HAD THE FINAL PHOTO SHOOT FOR MARIA’S SOUND OF MUSIC DRESS PATTERN, AND WE’VE ADDED SNEAK PEEK PHOTOS OF MARIA’S GAZEBO DRESS TO OUR FACEBOOK PAGE.)

If all goes as scheduled, this “Sound of Music” dress pattern should be released in late summer, so stay tuned for more updates!   To learn how to do honeycomb smocking for this lovely Sound of Music dress, read our new tutorial here.

So long, farewell,

sound of music costumes logoEdelweiss Patterns